In a fantastic demonstration of the solar power potential, Solar Impulse, the fuel-free airplane that uses only sunlight to fly, has safely landed in Hawaii after completing its epic 118-hour flight across the Pacific from Japan. During this 7,200km flight, the giant aircraft crossed two weather fronts – the boundaries separating air masses with different temperature and density – and endured turbulent weather conditions. The distance and duration have set an absolute record for a solo, un-refueled journey.17,000 solar cells fixed on the airplane’s 72 meter long wings were the source of power for the aircraft’s electric motors. It also charged its lithium-ion batteries that helped the aircraft fly even during the night hours. Till date the entire project had cost $159 million. Evidently, this expensive and ambitious project is not intended to rip open new avenues in commercial avionics. The goal is to champion the cause of clean technologies and send across strong green messages to local people. Green crusader and pilot of Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard, rightly underline the ultimate goal of the mission. He believes that the accomplishment of Solar Impulse is not only a historic first for aviation, but is also a historic first for renewable energies.
The solar-powered jumbo plane encountered a number of technical glitches during its 118-hour long journey, but in the end it did prove that solar power can be a profitable solution for both developed and emerging markets. André Borschberg, who piloted the plane from Japan to Hawaii, asserts, “We have the commitment to complete this flight around the world next year hopefully, of course, successfully.” More than anything else, Solar Impulse is a celebration of the power of clean technologies. The good news is, all the clean technologies integrated in the airplane can be adopted in our daily lives. According to Borschberg, “We need governments to create a favorable environment so these technologies are widely used in order to reduce CO2 emissions.”Solar power is touching the sky – isn’t it high time you welcome solar into your life, too?